And the Winner Is…Who Cares?
We used to live near a dentist who ran his entire operation in a HyperCard stack he devised himself. All patient information, treatments, appointments, and bills were handled by his stack, running on one of those original, all-in-one Macs that us old hands think of as definitive. No colour, no sound, tiny screen, clunky operating system, no multi-tasking, and a mouse the size of a house brick. But a graphical operating system from the days when windows were holes in buildings.
HyperCard was a forerunner to the Internet as we know it today, the World Wide Web. It combined databases with HyperTalk, an easy-to-use programming language, all wrapped up in a graphical front end. HyperCard also inspired Pei-Yuan Wei, a Taiwanese student at UC Berkeley, to build an adventure game construction set. What he ended up with was one of the world’s first Web browsers called violaWWW, which came complete with a graphical interface plus the ability to run applets, three years before Java was brewed.
This was in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Gophers rubbed shoulders with Archie and Veronica. Turbo Gopher VR even used 3D browsing, which from personal recollection could make you feel seasick as you tunnelled through Gopher space. In those days, Macintosh and NeXT (which became Mac OS X) were the systems used by many of the developers of the Internet.
It all came to an end when the University of Minnesota, in a Scrooge-like moment, started to charge for Gopher servers. Unlucky for them, the University of Illinois had just released Mosaic, a free and graphical Web browser, which soon overtook Gopher because it was easier to use. There are still over 100 Gopher servers in the world, which are supported by Mozilla-based browsers plus OmniWeb. The number of servers has actually increased recently.
Mosaic became Netscape and then was accompanied by all the other nascent browsers such as Lynx, Opera, Internet Explorer, Cyberdog, OmniWeb, Camino, and Chrome. We’ve tried them all for the Mac and each, apart from Opera, has been our favoured browser for a while. Currently it’s Safari. On Windows XP, we’ve tried Firefox, Safari, and Chrome but stick with Internet Explorer.
So when we received the news that Chrome has overtaken Safari to become the third most popular method of accessing the Web, the overwhelming urge was to yawn. Some reports have it as zooming past. In reality, it is a difference of a mere 0.17%, but each has increased market share at Internet Explorer’s expense.
Also in This Series
- What Trick, What Device, What Starting-Hole… · May 2012
- Do Androids Dream? · April 2012
- Our Macs Are Under Attack · March 2012
- The Best and Worst Christmas Presents · February 2012
- The Best Use for a Kindle · January 2012
- It’s Got No Blinking Light · January 2012
- Box-Shifting Causes Migration · December 2011
- The Best Thing About the iPhone 4S and How to Cope in Clink · December 2011
- Death of a Salesman · November 2011
- Complete Archive